“Hamilton” Is Right On the Money, Which Means Women Have to Wait (Video)

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Last year, popular interest in American currency reached new heights thanks to an initiative to finally place a woman on the face of the $20 bill. “Women on 20s” launched an online voting campaign to nominate an important woman from history as the new face of the $20 bill – the face of which is currently Andrew Jackson. After much back-and-forth between the grassroots movement and the Treasury, it was eventually announced that yes, a woman will indeed appear on the bill, but likely not before 2030. However, there was a compromise of sorts offered up by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who announced that the $10 would be a definite home for a woman’s face in only a couple of years. Reactions to that announcement were comprised of mainly groans, given that the $10 bill is one of the most rarely used and circulated bills in the country. Now, however, it seems even that decision is being walked back, and it all has to do with the success of the Hip-Hop inspired Broadway play “Hamilton.”

Alexander Hamilton will indeed remain the face of the $10 bill, and “a scene of women throughout history will be added to the back,” according to the Washington Times. On the one hand, the news is disheartening because it seems to suggest that women have no place adorning the front of U.S. currency – even denominations of money hardly used. However, there is more good news than bad. “[T]he Treasury Department will announce this week that it will redesign the $20 bill to include a famous woman’s face,” reports the Times. Though which woman will replace Andrew Jackson has not yet been announced, the general consensus seems to be that nearly any choice would be better than Jackson – a pro-slavery president who helped organize the infamous Trail of Tears. According to a CBS report, “the smashing success of ‘Hamilton’ brought newfound fans of the founding father rallying around the first treasury secretary-turned-pop icon,” including in the eyes of Lew himself. In an interview with Charlie Rose last month, Lew said “Alexander Hamilton is one of my heroes. He’s not leaving our money.”

On last night’s episode of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, nearly all of the content was devoted to this recent news, and a spectrum of perspectives was included. The host himself says of the decision to place women only on the back of the $10 bill “the only thing more insulting would be to put a woman on the front of a $.78 bill,” referring to the statistic that women are paid 78 cents to every dollar a man makes.

Special guest, actor Terry Crews, is also asked to share his thoughts on the topic, saying “We as men in America have always valued ourselves more than women…I became a card-carrying feminist because there’s this cult of masculinity and this thing where it’s about being the man. When you’re talking about value, you see all these guys who’ve been on money for years. It’s just time, and I think they shouldn’t delay it.” All members of the panel – which include two female Nightly Show contributors Grace Parra and Holly Walker – seem to agree that, while the decision to place a woman on the much-more used $20 bill is indeed the right move, the date of 2030 is too far away.

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